Of The Storm
A fantasy Halloween story, written in nine parts, by nine awesome writers, from all around the world.
To catch up on earlier instalments, click below...
Part 1 by Lori Connelly
Part 2 by Aileen Harkwood
Part 3 by Elise Forier Edie
Part 4 by Paty Jager
Part 5 by Ciara Gold
Part 6 by Traci Douglass
Part 7 by Angela Campbell
Part 8 by Charlotte Phillips
And now, Part 9 by Jane Linfoot
In all the years they’d guarded the Torc, she’d never seen it like this. It was as if somehow all the power within it had ignited in the face of extreme danger.
Her arm was still high above her head, where she’d reached to snatch it from the air. Except it hadn’t felt like snatching, it was more as if the Torc had come hurtling towards her with the force of a guided missile, and embedded itself in her fist. And although her elbow was strangely numb, locked into place by the force of the Torc zapping into her hand, stinging pulses were zinging between her wrist and her shoulder.
She was aware of the sudden physical weight of the Torc, pushing down through her shoulder now, reinforcing the weight of her responsibility. It was back in their possession, and the safekeeping of the Torc was once again down to her and Makani. They had been the guardians for as long as she could remember, but without ever truly understanding the power of what they were protecting. Now she and Makani knew better, the enormity of their role as custodians made Amaya’s stomach quake. But rulers? That was something else.
It took a seismic burst of energy from her, to force her eyes away from the Torc. Across the room, Blaike’s arms were protectively entwined around Makini. Her heart gave a lurch as she saw Bri leaning against the stone wall, long silver hair tangled, rubbing his leg. She had to force herself to prise her gaze away from Bri, to check that Tasaria was no longer a danger. That problem was sorted, temporarily at least. Tasaria was a heap on the floor, surrounded by guards. Looking up again, Amaya was aware that everyone was staring at her, with an unnerving air of expectation.
She inhaled sharply. Amaya, the girl who submerged her power, would never have stepped up, but what about Amaya, the woman who had emerged tonight, who embraced her magic self and all the associated power to do good.... What would that Amaya do?
‘So....’ She gave a diffident shrug in the direction of her allies, unhappy to be thrust into this position. ‘Any ideas what we do next?’
Makani and Blaike standing as one, said nothing. The silence hung long and heavy before Bri finally shuffled, shifted his back against the megalithic stone wall, and spoke.
‘You need to put on the Torc, Amaya.’
His low grating tone sent a shiver down her spine.
Amaya shook her head. ‘It’s not my place to put on the Torc, Bri....’
Bri took a step towards her and when he spoke his voice was stronger, firmer.
‘It’s time Amaya. There are battles to be fought, it’s time to unleash the power of the Torc for good. For that to happen, it needs to be worn....’
Amaya heard the bang of her heart as it jolted against her chest wall. ‘But there are two of us in the line. What about you Makani?’ She looked pleadingly at her sister. Surely Makani, as the elder, should take it.
‘The Torc chose you Amaya.’ Makani eased herself out of Blaike’s tight embrace to stand tall and straight, and her words rang out. ‘It was your hand it flew into. It chose you, for your strength, for your wisdom, for your goodness. It chose you because you are ultimately discerning, and also, no doubt, for your sass.’ She broke off to send Amaya a half smile. ‘And I already have my ring. In that way, I am already spoken for.’
Amaya caught the tender smile that passed between Blaike and Makani, and was happy that her sister had finally found love. But Blaike’s expression was grave as he raised his head to address her.
‘It’s true Amaya, you are the chosen one. Before, you were merely a guardian, but it’s time for you to own the Torc. And by staking your claim, your magical powers for good will multiply exponentially. We will all be needing those, and sooner than you think.’ He gave a deep sigh.
Amaya’s knees sagged. Her? No way was she up to this job. ‘I’m not sure I can....’
‘The Torc had no doubts Amaya.’ Blaike’s words were low, yet determined. ‘You can, and you will. And what’s more you must hurry. Come over here, let Makani place it on you. If it’s placed on you by another, the power is greater still.’
Amaya moved across, and Makani took the heavy gold band from her hand, and a moment later the Torc closed around Amaya’s neck. A fierce warmth immediately infused her body. ‘Strange, now I’m wearing it, the Torc isn’t heavy at all.’
‘Can you feel the heat yet?’ Bri scrutinised her face, relaxing his gaze as she nodded. ‘Heat means the power of the torc has already passed to you.’ He squeezed her hand. ‘In that case, we need to move on, and fast, because there is one task left to us. To ensure our nations will be safe, we need to deal with Tasaria, and deal with her once and for all.’ His voice, suddenly harsh, rang into the darkness.
Amaya still a little dizzied by the Torc heat and Bri’s hand squeeze, felt her jaw drop, but it was Makini who turned to him, wide eyed with disbelief, her voice little more than a squeak. ‘You want us to kill her?’
Bri dismissed that comment with a derisory snort. ‘Who said anything about killing? There are four of us, we should be strong enough to drive out the evil from Tasaria, and disarm her for good, especially given that Amaya now has super powers. Quick, all four of us need to make a circle around Tasaria. Blaike, Makani, this is urgent. If we do it whilst she is weak we stand more chance of success.’
He tugged Amaya towards the fallen Queen, and as he motioned to them, the guards fell back into the shadows. ‘Now link hands around her, and shout out all together, “bono malum superate” – it will drive away the evil.’
Funny how Bri always surprised her with the immense depth of his knowledge, and his ability to take charge in a crisis. Amaya took a breath, fixed her eyes on the crumpled body of the Queen at their feet, and bellowed, ‘bono malum superate, bono malum superate, bono malum superate....’
Tasaria moved a little, and gave a low moan.
Amaya looked at Bri expectantly. ‘Is it done?’
Bri gave a grimace. ‘Not quite, we’ll try again. After three, one, two....’
They did, but the result was similar.
‘Damn....what the hell’s going wrong here?’ Bri let out a cry of frustration, and blew out his cheeks.
Makani jumped in. ‘Is there a problem?’
Blaike was almost hissing. ‘Of course there’s a problem, and Bri already knows exactly what it is. The power of four in the circle is complex, and dependent on the relationships of the people in the circle. If there’s a couple involved, the circle only reaches the peak of it’s power when it’s made up of two times two, as in two couples. A couple plus two singles has way less strength, and then there’s a worst case scenario, where there’s a couple and two people attracted to each other, but who are in denial.... In theory Amaya’s power should be enough to counteract the singles. The only case it wouldn’t be enough is if the attraction of the other pair is huge and unfulfilled....’ He gave Bri a piercing stare, as Tamaria pushed herself up to sitting. ‘Over to you Bri, but the longer you mess about, the stronger Tamaria becomes....’
Bri kicked the dirt floor, and exhaled. ‘I apologise to whoever I offend for this.’
Amaya only had time to open her mouth in surprise, as Bri grasped her, spun her around, ran his slender fingers through her lopsided pony tail, and brought his mouth crashing over hers. Sweet, delicious. Everything she’d longed for and more.
The warmth that infused her body was not at all the same as when Makani had almost throttled her with the Torc, only minutes earlier. This time the heat roared through her like a jet stream, and rushed to different places entirely. Gasping, she put a hand on Bri’s shoulder to steady herself.
‘Not the way I’d planned this Amaya, nor the most romantic declaration in the book,’ Bri paused to flash her a rueful grin as he pulled away. ‘I promise I’ll do better later, but just so you know, and to make it perfectly clear to the powers of the circle of four, I want to be with you, I have to be with you, and if you’ll have me, please just hold my hand Amaya, and lets get this thing done.’
‘Good point well made....at long last.’ Blaike gave a low, knowing laugh.
‘Of course I’ll have you Bri,’ Amaya beaming deliriously, grasped Bri’s hand, and then caught Makani’s too, to close the chain again. ‘There’s nothing I’d like better. Count us down Bri, let’s see if we can drive the evil out of Tamaria this time.’
Amaya blinked as a gust of air blasted past her face with the force of a tornado, and through half closed eyes she watched dazzling sparks arc from the Torc to Tamaria. Tamaria pushed herself up to sitting, and gazed around the circle giving each a weak, yet very benign smile.
‘Blaike, Bri, how lovely to see you, but why so many fireworks? It’s like something from Harry Potter.’ She rubbed her head, her brow creased into a puzzled frown, as her voice cracked anxiously. ‘And Makani and Amaya too, is everything alright? You aren’t hurt are you?’
Bri turned to Amaya. ‘Good going, I’d say that’s more than one job well done. This is for saving both our worlds.’ His arms closed around her, and he pulled her into a long kiss.
In the distance a clock was striking twelve, as Amaya stood on tiptoe to breathe in his ear.
‘For this year at least.’